OTPIC Officially Retired
As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.
The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.
International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA
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Usually when people are involved in a conflict it is because they are prevented from having or doing something that they want or need because someone or something is preventing them attaining their goal. Usually, it is assumed that in order to get what they want, it is necessary for the other side to not get what it wants. This is termed a "win-lose" situation because the assumption is that if one side wins, the other side must lose.
In some conflicts, this situation is unavoidable. If a resource is limited, and there is not enough available to satisfy everyone, then the more one person has, the less another gets. For instance, if two countries each need water from a river that flows between them, and there is not enough in the river to meet each country's needs, then the more one takes, the less the other gets. This is an inherently win-lose situation.
Other conflicts, however, are assumed to be win-lose, when they are not necessarily so. Sometimes, it is possible to develop a solution which will meet both parties' interests or needs simultaneously. If the conflict involves interests, this can be done by interest-based reframing and principled negotiation. If the conflict involves needs, this can be done by a needs analysis and analytical problem solving.
However, especially in long-lasting and deep-rooted conflict, people assume that the situation is a win-lose problem, and they respond very aggressively, or competitively, trying to get as much as possible for themselves, and consequently as little as possible for their opponents. This tends to increase the opposition of the other side, cause the conflict to escalate, and make finding any solution-even an interim solution-much more difficult. A cooperative approach, on the other hand, can often improve even win-lose situations, as the parties can learn more about what each needs and then determine together the fairest way to divide things up.
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